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Readers' Corner - March 2000

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TNT Star cable
the TNT Audio pages are fantastic! I am going to build the TNT star speaker cables but have a question I was hoping you could answer.
Where exactly do the Ferite rings go? One around the "+" and one around the "-" at each end? I presume there is just no shielding along the short run between the four core cable and the connectors and the rings should be positioned up against the four core cable bit.

PS: The only cable I can find in Australia is microphone cable: 4 CORE PRO MIC CABLE WB1540 $2.75
Super flexible black matt finish PVC low noise cable with tinned copper screening. Specs: 11/0.20 x 4 core +112/0.12 Colour: red, white, yellow & Black. Outer dia: 6.2mm It is at Jaycar Electronics if any Aussies want to know.
Michael Piotrowicz - E-mail: michael.piotrowicz@studentmail.newcastle.edu.au

Dear Michael,
the ferrite rings should go around both wires (+ and -) so you need just two ferrite rings for each cable (channel). And yes, they should be put as close as possible to the 4 cables core. BUT!!! Not always the ferrite rings work as they should, in the sense that on certain systems their effect can be perceived as negative by some listeners, so you need to experiment this on your own and decide by yourself.
Also, you may want to try the better TNT FFRC speakers cable.
Thanks for the appreciation,
Lucio Cadeddu

Re: CD changers
Thanks very much for your reply in the Readers Corner, regarding my CD player questions. Indeed, as I continued my research, I quickly reached the same conclusion: a single CD player will give me a lot more value than a changer. So, I have redirected my search accordingly.
For a while, I was sure the AH! Tjoeb 99 would be my best choice under $500. And for some people this would surely be true. But I realized that the Tjoeb 99 is really for listeners who love tweeking and experimenting, and to be honest, that's not me.
I simply want a good value player that I can connect and not think about for another 10 years. So, I continued looking.
I am now considering three units...

All three of these players offer a lot of value for the money. I expect that, with my relatively mid-fi Adcom/Advent system, any of them would sound fine.
The Cambridge Audio unit gets the highest ratings, but this company is decidedly obscure in my area, so I'm a bit concerned about support and service.
However, everyone around here sells NAD, so I'm a bit more comfortable with that unit. And if I decide that I want bells and whistles, I can go for the Sherwood Newcastle.
We'll see. The Anthem CD 1 looks excellent, but it's out of my price range.
After I get the new CDP installed, it's time for cables! I will try the TNT plans for speaker cables and interconnects, though I'm not sure which ones. But I will give you a full report on their performance when the time comes.

Again, many thanks for your excellent advice. Because of TNT, you are audio mentor to thousands of listeners around the world, and I consider myself very lucky to have stumbled across your site.
Don Riemer - E-mail: driemer@airworthy.com

Dear Don,
the AH! Tjoeb CD player isn't just for audiophiles who want to experiment and tweak...it is a common CD player, you just insert the disc and it will play it :-)
But, as you seem concerned with support and service by small HiFi Companies I'd suggest you to have a look at Rotel CD players, too. As NAD they have a good rep w.r.t. sound quality and I'm sure they're available almost everywhere.
Also, do not forget to have a look at Marantz and Harman Kardon players: reliable, good sounding and serviceable almost anywhere in the World. They offer several models into the price range you're interested in.
Hope this helps,
Lucio Cadeddu

Max Rochlin Tribute digital cable...and flames
OK-- let me be blunt: I don't want to be insulting--but how can you possibly say so much about the listening qualities of a cable?
Come on! While I've always been quite skeptical about high-dollar cables, I will concede that they can make minor differences in sound--but really--you have more than just a few words about this cable (try several paragraphs!).
Now, if you'd come out and said it sounds slightly better (or worse) than this-or-that other cable, then that is fine. But, "mid range" this and "harmonic richness" and "fast and dry" bass range with "slight sweet roll-off", etc., etc.! That sounds a little beyond the properties of just a cable, doesn't it?
Okay--I know I'm pushing your buttons and who am I to question your subjective opinion, right? It's just I really don't buy all the black magic hocus pocus stuff that's touted about this or that product--and you know why?
Because, nobody ever seems to conduct scientifically based, provable, double-blind tests to actually prove anything they say! It's always some new age thing about jitter or slew rate or impedance or some other thing that no one understands and I'll bet that 99 out of 100 people who waste their money can't hear (you not included, of course!)

Now, given that all your words about this cable are what you believe you experienced, don't you think it's a little much to say considering that you only heard it on one (your) system in comparison to one other cable?
Will all of the descriptions you gave hold true on my system? I doubt it--and I doubt you'd think so either. So, I guess my whole point is that I can't stand when so many adjectives are used when describing such simple items.
Why not just say it sounded better/worse/about equal to this cable of a much higher price? Probably no one in the entire world will hear the same exact qualities you heard on any system...

Oh, yes, and I read the Bob Katz interview. His solution--a "perfect D/A"--has nothing to do with cables! I find it amusing that so many people spend so much time and money on things that are like barking up the wrong tree to start with!
My pet-peeve examples include: RCA connectors (BNC's are vastly superior), 60 Hz AC power (now here's somewhere you could really reduce problems!), cabling (why spend $$$ on cables that connect to tiny crappy little wires inside your components?), all other black-box static eliminators, vibration dampening pyramids, expensive resistor/capacitors, blah, blah, blah, that only a few people "claim" to hear the difference... (usually those selling such nonsense.)

Like I said, I don't want to be insulting. I'd really like to spark some real productive debate here. And to be honest, I built the Max Rochlin cable for myself--not to replace anything more expensive, but because it has great specs and I like Canare's connector quality.
Additionally, Belden's cable is only a couple dimes per foot so the overkill is not unreasonable--Beldon claims an attenuation loss of less than 1 dB per 100 feet at 10 MHz.
If I was wiring a whole building, I'd use a cheaper cable. I'm actually going to be writing an e-mail to Steven Rochlin to take him to task regarding his use of Belden 1506A cable--which is a plenum rated cable (for HVAC duct area wiring).
The plenum rating only has to do with fire resistance and where the cable may be installed in a building. I think that Belden 1505A is more appropriate--same exact cable (actually the electrical specs are slightly better), just not plenum rated.
Also, Steve specifies Canare BCP/RCAP-C4F connectors--if you look at Canare's web site or catalog, Canare specifies BCP/RCAP-C32 connectors for use with Belden 1506A (http://www.canare.com/bnccrimp.html).

Of course, if you're going for all-out specs, why not use Belden 7731A with Canare BCP-C71A BNC ends? This is an RG-11/U size cable with less than half the attenuation of 1506A. I also find the use of $50 a roll solder a bit laughable--as if two solder joints are going to make any difference when the solder joints inside any CONSUMER equipment are certainly ordinary!
Again--not that I want to assault anyone--I just think it sad that everyone gets caught up in these silly imperfections while ignoring the big dents! In fact, a crimp connection is probably superior to a solder joint!
A proper crimp connection is gas-tight and actually swages the metals together eliminating the solder interface. To my knowledge--solder joints are a bane to the aerospace industry because of their susceptibility to vibration related failure.

That's all I have to say for now! Hope you found it provoking... Please let me know your opinions--I'd love to "hear" them!
Kevin P. Rice - E-mail: krice@charter.net

Dear Kevin,
some months ago a friend of mine received (by me) the Steven Rochlin's cable. Actually he knew NOTHING about the cable, he didn't even read the review on TNT-Audio. I simply asked him to test a digital cable into his system (Wadia, Mark Levinson, Thiel etc.) as I just needed to know his opinions.
Some weeks later he phoned me and tried to tell me his findings. And, surprise surprise, it seemed he was reading my review of that cable so that I asked again if he saw that review on TNT-Audio...and he replied: "Say what? Have you really reviewed this cable???? Tell me where, I'm curious!!!". He even ignored the cost of the cable.
Have you, my dear reader, an answer for this? Pure coincidence? Maybe. But the cable has been tested by a third guy, who, again, ignored our findings and opinions. Different systems, different ears...same conclusions.
The very SAME words. Ok, this is not scientific...but it still sheds some light on the topic of "subjective" reviews. Matter for thought.
And believe me, I use this trick several times during my tests: having a friend testing the same stuff without knowing the first thing about the item.

Finally, let me add that we don't sell nothing, we don't have advertising nor "friends", so we simply don't care to write something positive or negative about a product. We just tell it like it is. Actually, we have written several negative reviews, indeed. And we have several enemies.
Maybe one more, after this reply. I just don't care...my income does not depend on this.
Don't forget NOT everyone is able to hear everything a trained listener hears...this is FACT. Exactly like a common everyday driver won't ever be able to TELL the real differences between two cars like an experienced pilot. I'm sure you can agree on this.

Just one last question: why you damn audiophiles (or technophiles) can't simply enjoy the Music? Do you always need this stupid uncontrollable urge to criticize?
Relax. It's just Music, after all. Can't you find better ways to spend your spare time? Believe me, I can ;-)
Lucio Cadeddu

Norh speakers
I saw your test about Norh 4.0 and I have a little question. I'm thinking to buy the 5.1 model but I don't know if my Edison 60 amplifier is enough.
And then I thought that you have tested the 4.0 and maybe can advise me in my quest for High Fidelity :-)
I would appriciate any help.
Petter Fredriksson - E-mail: petterf@usa.net

Dear Petter,
your Edison amp has a good driving capability so there shouldn't be any trouble hooking up a pair of Norh 5.1. I've just tested the Norh 4.0 and, if the quality of the 5.1 is comparable (considering the higher price), then this should be another excellent choice.
Low sensitivity (as in the Norh 4.0) and low powered amps don't match, especially if the listening room is large or the usual listening levels are on the loud side.
Lucio Cadeddu

CD player advice
Greetings. I hope you can help me with a question...
For some time, I've been planning on buying a Parasound CDC-1500. I've finally reached the necessary combination of financial solvency and available space in my living room needed to make this purchase feasible... and I now learn that this unit is discontinued. Indeed, all the Parasound CD players are discontinued.
Well, any suggestions? I had really hoped to get a relatively high-end changer; the Parasound 1500 was unique in this area. In my position, what would you do? I'm still using my old Denon DCD-1300.
It's 1986 vintage, and I am long overdue for an upgrade. Your thoughts on this matter would be most appreciated.

And by the way, your TNT site is outstanding. The DIY info is worth it's weight in virgin vinyl; I will make a pair of UBYTE cables as soon as I can find the parts.
Don Riemer - E-mail: driemer@airworthy.com

Dear Don,
though I wouldn't suggest CD changers to anyone interested in audiophile performance, you have several good sounding choices: for example the Anthem CD 1 we have recently reviewed here on TNT-Audio. Then you have the Arcam MCD plus various models from Rotel and NAD.
Finally two words on why I don't like CD changers: first of all they are more expensive than respective single-play units or, in other words, for a given price, they are worse as you know nobody gives anything for free (except TNT-Audio :-) ).
Remember that any additional feature has a cost and normally simpler stuff sounds better and is far more reliable.
Thanks for your appreciation, let us know your progress on DIY cables. Eventually, join our mailing list to share your experience with hundreds of other HiFi nuts.
Lucio Cadeddu

Speaker cables
Dear Sir,
I came across your web through a browser looking for HiFi informations and am delighted with it. It has good technical informations, impartial reviews and above all the practical and economical solutions in your DIY section. This is now my favourite site and I am visiting it daily.
I am particularly interested in speaker cables now as I am looking for an upgrade after having acquired a pair of used Rogers Studio 5.
With the highly revealing nature of the Rogers, I am more convinced than ever that cables sound differently.
I would like to know whether buying a higher quality speaker cables in single run (non-biwired) a better option to biwired connections with a lower quality cables? Thank you.
Wong - E-mail: pohchuen@mbox4.singnet.com.sg

Dear reader,
I always prefer a single run (monowiring) using better cables than biwiring with cheap cables. Anyway, if you want to start with experiments you can't go wrong with our TNT FFRC cables. If you don't feel comfortable with stripping and soldering you can even build the easier TNT Star, a very basic design that outperforms the standard multistrand 1 mm2 speaker cables.
Or, if you really want to buy a commercial product, please consider something from Kimber, Audioquest, JPS or MIT. These are quite easy to find and their catalogues include many models so to satisfy everyone's needs.
Thanks for your appreciation,
Lucio Cadeddu

Norh 4.0...again!
Delighted to read your review of the Norh 4.0 loudspeaker. I bought it 5 months ago and I currently drive it with the Holfi Aura integrated amp with very good results. This system is connected to my satellite t.v. system for our family viewing.
I must say that your review exactly mirrors that of my experience with this speaker. It is a speaker with high-end aspirations. I once connected it to my main system consisting of Krell FPB300 power amps and Clearaudio Reference turntable/Souther arm/Insider gold cartridge and Clearaudio Reference phono stage just to see how it would sound.
I can tell you that I could live with it even if I don't have my resident Sonus Faber Extremas!
But most of all, everybody falls in love with the looks alone. And I'm just placing it atop a wooden cabinet with the tv in between. Real cool.
Keep up your great job at TNT - one of the best sites in the www. Regards,
J Teoh - E-mail: jteoh@wangi.com.my

Dear reader,
thanks a lot for your kind and precious feedback. Your letter proves, once again, that if a listening test has been made following serious criteria then it is not difficult to hear similar opinions from different audiophiles, even if the reference systems used and the listening rooms are very different.
The procedure we use to test HiFi components takes time, as we want to avoid our tests to be too much system & room -dependent. This forces us to use different HiFi systems into different rooms. This means more time and concentration...but letters like yours confirm we're following the right "groove" :-)
Stay tuned!
Lucio Cadeddu

Bikes & cables :-)
Dear Lucio,
how small is this World?? I was hugely surprised to see your name on this website. I am an bike enthusiast and am an on/off subscriber to the eurobike mailinglist.
We share more than one thing.
Now to my question. Since my Quad 405 broke down, I am or better was in the market for some new HiFi equipment.
I traded my Quad 44/broken 405 in for a Carmenta valve pre-amp and an Audiolab 8000P main amp. They sound very good with my two B&W kangaroo's (DM 6).
The B&W always sounded a bit warm to my taste so my idea was to use some nice transparent interlinks which could open up the high/mid section and definition.
I am using the yellow Van der Hul speakercable. A dealer gave me some nice Harmonic Tech interlinks, the SylwayII and they sound very good with my set-up.
The only thing is they cost a fortune--> $430.00 (dollars). Have you heard these interlinks and /or do you know a cheaper maybe even more transparent alternative. Hope to hear your good news soon
Joris Jan Bos - E-mail: jorisjan@bigfoot.com

Dear Joris,
it seems there are many bikers (roadies or mtbikers) out there who enjoy good HiFi listening at home. Here at TNT-Audio there's 3 of them: Geoff Husband, Jon Sek and yours truly.
They don't subscribe to my Eurobike mailing list but are serious bike nuts :-)
As for cables: you may want to try our TNT FFRC speaker cable (quite open and detailed) and, perhaps, a silver cable like the Voodoo cables: open, very detailed and reasonably priced.
I've not listened to the Harmonic Tech stuff yet, though I've been exchanging e-mails with some of guys of that Company, if I remember well.
Of course, we are ready to test ANYTHING that arrives at our palatial headquarters, no need to ask, just send :-)
Keep the rubber side down, dudes!
Lucio Cadeddu

Tweaks on Teac CD players and more
Having just read the review of the Teac CDP 1120 and the tweaks for the P1110 I am very interested in hearing more information on tweaking this very inexpensive pair of CD players.
The CDP 1120 is available at www.jandr.com for US $89.99 and sounds like an excellent way to start Tweaking with out risking damaging a major investment audio component.
I read the reviews of the Edison 60 with great interest. How does this kit compare to the Sonic Frontiers Assemblage ST40?
On a separate note I read the do and don'ts for the forum but could not find a how to post "do".
Thank you
Robert Wright - E-mail: negativelight@mindspring.com

Dear Robert,
the "Stage 1" tweaks I've applied to the CDP 1100 can be easily adapted to the very similar CDP-1120. Geee, at 90 US $, that player is a MUST.
There's a "Stage 2" tweaks session, but it is available in Italian only and I'm struggling to find the time to translate that article, given the large number of requests I get.

I've listened to the Edison 60 but never had the chance to compare it to the Sonic Frontiers ST40, sorry. All that I can say is that the Edison is very good, indeed.
As for DO's and DON'Ts....you can send your mail directly to me at editor@tnt-audio.com
Keep reading!
Lucio Cadeddu

New amp?
Dear TNT,
Thank you very much for your reply and truly appreciate your effort. Indeed, I just came back from Singapore and to my big surprise, there is a dealer selling Audion Sterling Mono Block Valve Amp.
I have listened to it hooked up to a pair of Aliante Spazio. It sounds relaxing, warm and easy. Tried it with Classical, Classic and some rock music. I guess it could hanldle well for all of it despite the soundstage is not that impressive but I suspect this is due to bad speaker positioning.
Moreover, we did not use any pre-amp. It's a direct set up: CD player - Mono Valve amp - Speaker. And of course, the casing is rather cheap looking; Black and metal casing.

I came back with this pair of amp in mind and decide to search into your homepage for some opinion before purchase it. But, sadly, there isn't any review for Audion Sterling Monoblock Amp, but only the later model being reviewed (which was given good commend) in your homepage.

Could I ask you what is your opinion towards this pair of mono block amp? Have you audited one before? I will buy to hook to my JBL Studio Monitor 4408 that is probably 12 years old by now. I would use solely for music and not home theater. Once again, thank you very much for your kind reply.

Thanks for your letter, the only snag being that Audion have made quite a few different models over the last ten years, using different valves and with different power outputs. For details of the particular model try audion@mistral.co.uk as they should be able to guide you as to what it's power output is etc.

Buying rare amps second hand can be a problem as far as spares are concerned, but Audion generally use straight-forward components - "any TV repair man can fix them" according to David Chessell of Audion which is a great comfort when something goes wrong with an old second hand amp a continent away from the manufacturer.

The amps are unlikely to put out more than 30 watts so the accompanying speakers need to be reasonably efficient. With my own monoblocks I use a pair of IPL S3Mtl's which run at about 87 dbl and are an easy load, this is the minimum effeciency you should consider.
Generally JBL's are pretty efficient, but I'd check they work with the amps first. If at all possible borrow the amps or take your speakers to the dealers, then the risk will be minimalised.
My experience of the sound quality of Audion amps is that they seem very good for the price paid. I'm pleased with my own amps and have heard a couple of others in the range to good effect, but as always your ears are what counts.
If they sound good to you and the price is right then why wait? If in the final analysis you find you don't like them you should be able to sell them on with little loss, not something you can do with new equipment...
Geoff Husband

© Copyright 2000 Lucio Cadeddu

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